Back in 2009, the parliamentary shit really hit the House of Commons’ fan when a daily broadsheet started publishing details of dubious expense claims made by those in public office.
The House of Lords didn’t escape unsullied either, and repayments, resignations and, in a handful of cases, imprisonment followed.
So, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s no wonder that the fictional Labour MP Robert Houston (Ben Miller) goes into meltdown in experienced TV writers Dan Patterson and Colin Swash’s new (if hardly topical) farce.
With a mountain of receipts, a second home used by his gambling addict son, an avalanche of manure and hanging baskets, and, of course, a duck house (and that’s just for starters), his plans to cross the floor and defect to the Conservative party are in serious jeopardy when the scandal breaks on the eve of his final interview with Tory grandee Sir Norman Cavendish.
Like the script, Terry Johnson’s lively production throws all subtlety to the winds – especially in the weaker second half in which Simon Shepherd’s Sir Norman suffers indignities no self-respecting actor should have to endure. Trousers are dropped, doors are slammed, the one-liners come thick and fast, and there’s the obligatory scantily-clad girlfriend.
But Nancy Carroll just about retains her dignity as Houston’s snobbish wife who can’t wait to ditch all Labour pretence, and Debbie Chazen makes an impact as their opinionated Russian housekeeper in this broad and often funny farce.
Where: Vaudeville Theatre, Strand WC2R 0NH (Tube: Charing Cross)
When: Until March 29
Cost: £20 – £49.50